Running after joint replacement

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Do you have achy knees or a bad hip and everything you have tried doesn't relieve the pain? Then it may be time for a replacement.

There are more than a million total hip and knee replacements done in the U.S. every year, and that number is expected to rise to 4 million by 2030.

One type of replacement surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is getting patients recovering quicker and back to their normal activities faster without any limitations.

Sixty-three-year-old Dana Potts didn't start running competitively until his late 50s.

"When I got older, I just ran 5Ks and 10Ks," he said.

His short-distance running abilities landed him at state finals, where he won gold. But his constant training landed him in need of a hip replacement.

"I was shocked, because I've never been operated on, I've never broke anything, never had any issues healthwise, really, in my life, so this was really traumatic for me," Potts said.

Every doctor he went to said he could not run competitively again after surgery. That is until he met Dr. Richard Berger at Rush University, where Berger offered Potts the anterior muscle-preserving approach for his hip replacement.

"What traditional surgery is, is we cut the muscles, ligaments and tendons, expose the joint, and then replace it," Berger said.

But with the anterior muscle-preserving approach, things are a little different.

"We actually go in between the muscles, ligament, and tendons so they're not cut. We get the same exposure to the joint and simply slip the pieces in," Berger said.

Patients have less pain, and the recovery is faster.

"The large majority of my patients actually go home within an hour or two of the surgery," Berger said.

Six months after Potts's replacement, he was competing and striking gold with his new hip.

"Actually won the gold medal. Three gold medals," he said.

He is leaving his competition in the dust.

Joint replacements typically last 15 to 20 years. Berger says that with his approach, joints are expected to last 20 to 25 years or even longer.

He has performed more than 10,000 outpatient joint replacement surgeries.


BACKGROUND: Research shows that there were approximately 1.6 million hip and knee arthroplasties performed in the United States in 2017, of which over 966,000 were knee replacements. Most knee reconstruction procedures can be categorized by their use of total, partial or revision implants. Conservative estimates of implant longevity are around 15 to 20 years, with many implants lasting longer. The rate of revision is expected to climb as the number of primary implanted devices increases. As the age for knee replacement expands to include younger populations, the need for more robust and longer-lasting implants will increase. Additionally, demand for custom arthroplasty solutions is expected to increase over the next few years. A variety of advanced implant technologies have experienced considerable advancement over the past several years. The latest technological developments are making the prospect of knee replacement more attractive to younger individuals, as they reduce recovery time and allow patients to resume their mobility at a quicker rate. (Source:

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS: Joint pain refers to discomfort, aches, and soreness in any of the body's joints and is a common complaint. Sometimes, joint pain is the result of an illness or injury. Arthritis is also a common cause of joint pain, however, it can also be due to other conditions or factors. The two main forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). According to the American College of Rheumatology, OA is most common in adults over the age of 40. You should see a doctor if you don't know the cause of your joint pain and are experiencing other unexplained symptoms. You should also see a doctor if the area around the joint is swollen, red, tender, or warm to the touch, the pain persists for three days or more, or you have a fever but no other signs of the flu. A joint X-ray may be necessary to identify arthritis-related joint damage. If your doctor suspects there's another cause, they may perform a blood test to screen for certain autoimmune disorders. They may also perform a sedimentation rate test to measure the level of inflammation in the body or a complete blood count. (Source:

DEVICE BREAKTHROUGH FOR KNEE PAIN: The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center recently performed the first surgery in the U.S. to implant a device designed to relieve knee pain and prevent or delay knee replacements. The Calypso Knee System works like a shock absorber to take pressure off the inside of the knee while walking. Currently in clinical trials, the device is being looked at how it can extend the life of a joint instead of opting for a knee replacement. Because most osteoarthritis patients are older adults, the hope is that this treatment can act as a bridge toward total knee replacement, giving patients years, if not a couple of decades, before a total knee replacement is required. Additionally, the Calypso Knee System hopes to get patients off crutches sooner, in about two weeks. The rehabilitation process can take anywhere from about three to six months to get back to normal activity levels, but addressing knee pain early and opting for a less invasive surgery can help patients replicate activity levels before knee pain. (Source: